Firms’ growth tied to satisfying connected consumers

It is hardly surprising that Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam identified productivity and innovation as key in a world marked by a slowdown in economic growth and trade ("S'pore 'needs a cultural change'"; Monday).

Continuous business growth remains elusive since most current assumptions concerning value creation have become increasingly questionable and less capable of delivering on their projections.

We live in uncertain times, marked by shorter cycles between economic growth and downturn, which are limiting new opportunities for expansion and causing companies to focus more on cost management.

The ability to deliver sustainable value is impaired, owing to the ever-changing economic paradigms that challenge businesses to stay relevant to ensure long-lasting competitiveness.

The unrelenting changes affecting our society have implications for the way we do business.

Sustainable growth can be achieved only through innovative solutions that bring genuine value appropriate to the specific needs of consumers.

The days of corporations leveraging their economies of scale, technology and ability to organise a reliable supply chain to meet the demands of the mass market are numbered.

The cycle of industrial production and voracious product consumption from greater consumer spending power is behind us.

The paradigms of change are driven and shaped by the globally connected social engagement space of the Internet.

The man in the street can now have access to creating value.

The control that corporations once possessed over communication and media channels is now in the hands of a multitude of tech-savvy individuals who analyse, evaluate and appraise products and services.

New media has caused trust in brand messages to be replaced with peer opinion. An unprecedented level of transparency is forcing companies to start listening to what customers want.

Consequently, traditional brand management execution is out. Businesses must come up with different strategies and recruit talents who are able to penetrate online forums.

Organisations must re-examine their business paradigms and question basic theories and practices. Strategies that profess to map out future growth are often no more than notions gleaned from existing paradigms.

In order for businesses to stay ahead of the competition, they must attain a deeper understanding of emerging market conditions to create sustainable value.

Edmund Khoo Kim Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2015, with the headline 'Firms' growth tied to satisfying connected consumers'. Print Edition | Subscribe